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Stevenson Responds to Darien Shuffle Criticism

DARIEN, Conn. – The following letter was written by Jayme Stevenson , the Republican candidate for Darien first selectman. Stevenson lives at 65 St. Nicholas Road, Darien.

I want to share some thoughts with you ...

Two years ago, Dave Campbell, Jerry Nielsen and I were elected to be your leaders. Since then, we have been studying the issue of how best to help our seniors both in terms of the need for a new Senior Center and the need for senior affordable housing. Our research included a review and understanding of the volumes of studies completed over the past 12 years. We, and the previous Bayne/Klein administration, have looked at all the options – the sale of 35 Leroy, moving the Senior Center to 35 Leroy, building a new Senior Center at its current site, moving the Senior Center to the DCA and building housing at 35 Leroy.

We are sensitive to and have considered the intensity-of-use issues at the Edgerton property. We understand our need for affordable housing on a macro level. Senior housing at Edgerton is an opportunity. An opportunity to preserve the neighborhood. An opportunity to add to our affordable housing stock that is the right fit for Darien and serves the people who need to be served.

The price of this project is fair. The value is outstanding. Approximately $60 per year for the average taxpayer – less than 20 cents per day – to create a Senior/Community Center, remove 17,000 square feet from the operating budget of the town and finally use a building that has stood vacant for years.

Our exhaustive research, conversations with stakeholders and community leaders, analysis by professional architects and our solid understanding of our town's assets/needs confirmed our commitment to the proposals we have presented. There is no perfect plan. Our plan represents what we and many others believe is the most responsible reuse of town facilities to solve a number of festering issues, the most important of which is the need to support our seniors. Who are the seniors? They are our Moms and Dads, our Aunts and Uncles, our Grandparents, our neighbors ... our friends. This issue is personal; we need to remember that as we continue this debate.

An effective, open-minded leader should fully understand all available information to make well-informed decisions. Good leaders should seek to inform, not perpetuate misinformation. Even the easiest due diligence – touring the facilities – seems to have gone undone by the vocal opponents of this project. Much of the information in Mr. Lundeen's recent letter regarding the facilities plan is blatantly inaccurate and partisan in its nature. Most of the questions he poses have been answered. Further, a greater understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the Board of Selectman, Planning and Zoning and the Board of Education are critical for an effective town leader. Voters should expect no less from someone who wants to be our First Selectman.

I'm a different kind of leader. I listen. I study. I see the issues in the context of the bigger town picture. I apply common sense to my decisions, and I understand the consequences of those decisions. I care.

Ask me questions. I want to hear your thoughts.

I'm passionate about helping our seniors and I fully support the facilities reuse project as it has been designed. I look forward to us coming together to complete this important project.

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